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Camp: Colombo, Sri Lanka 4th October 2017 : Addressing the delegates to the 8th Conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians on the theme Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians – a Platform for the Parliamentarians of South Asia to work together to reach the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Colombo today, Lok Sabha Speaker Smt. Sumitra Mahajan called upon SAARC countries to join hands to make SAARC an abode of peace, progress and prosperity. She emphasized that the implementation of the noble goals in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would be successful only when SAARC countries present a united front. She opined that nowhere in the world are collective efforts more important than in South Asia which is home to about one fourth of the world population. As such, the global success of the SDGs is heavily dependent on their successful implementation in the SAARC countries. Quoting the adage ‘poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere’, Smt. Mahajan observed that India has sincerely chosen the path of removing poverty by empowering the poor. She said that there are several shining examples of community-driven efforts in India specially in the area of rainwater harvesting, water conservation and cleanliness to make positive changes in the ground realities. In this context, she shared with the august gathering that her home town Indore had been declared as the ‘cleanest city in India’. This has been possible only through voluntary public participation, cooperation, and active involvement of people’s representatives and implementing agencies, she added. Recalling that the 2030 Agenda recognizes the essential role to be played by the national Parliaments in the implementation of SDGs, Smt. Mahajan said that the oversight and legislative functions of the national Parliaments need to be further strengthened by focusing more on SDGs in the whole process of parliamentary control and accountability. To meet this objective, cooperation and exchange of experiences among the legislative bodies of South Asian countries would be crucially important. In this regard, she informed the delegates that the parliamentarians in India have been pursuing the 2030 Agenda with full vigor and spirit. In the last two years, Parliament of India has decided to dedicate one day in each Session for discussing SDGs and their implementation, she said. Smt. Mahajan mentioned that her initiative, in the form of Speaker's Research Initiative ( SRI), is aimed at setting up an institutional arrangement in Parliament of India to assist the Members of Parliament by providing them with a deeper insight into the varied issues of developmental concern. She noted that on several occasions, this platform had been utilised to enlighten members of Parliament on diverse issues relating to the SDGs also, so that they could shoulder their responsibilities as law-makers and people's representatives more effectively. She assured that SRI would be too happy to extend all possible cooperation should any of the friends in SAARC and elsewhere would like to engage with it for sharing of best practices and information. She also recalled that the South Asian Speakers’ Summit on Achieving SDGs was held in Indore this with the main theme focusing on ‘Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Resources for SDGs’. The Summit adopted the Indore Declaration, which is a guiding light for SAARC nations to channelise their efforts to collectively work for advancing their actions, strategies and cooperation to give an appropriate regional response to the diverse challenges before them. She felt that SAARC nations need to interact and cooperate collectively to address the challenges that their region is facing in achieving these ambitious goals. She further said that SAARC nations should also reactive and reenergize various fora created under the auspices of SAARC for information sharing and monitoring of various issues of common interest. She observed that this would facilitate informed decision making in the region.



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